It takes a lot to get me out of the house in winter. I'm trying to renegotiate the basic human need for food so I can eliminate grocery store trips, but so far that hasn't worked so well. I don't like cold. Or snow. Or . . . you know, Amazon and PeaPod deliver . . .
Still, almost every winter I love to venture down to Starved Rock State Park with my family to hike the trails to see the frozen waterfalls. Usually, we manage to choose one of the coldest Saturdays of the winter. So you know I believe it's worth it to see those frozen sheets of water.
Another required stop is the bluff to watch the eagles. Soaring over the Illinois River, bald eagle pairs are a sight to make cold seem less relevant, somehow.
I started to imagine, while thinking about this topic of identity in God—what would it be like not to know you're an eagle? What if an eagle thought it was a mole? What if it spent its days digging through the ground, eating beetle grubs, wondering all the time why it was so incredibly ineffective at this digging thing. Why did it hate the feel of dirt in its feathers so much? And why, oh why, were grubs so disgusting and unfilling? The eagle would feel like it was a failure. Like it had one job and it not only was no good at it, it didn't even care.
That sounds like a lot of us. Last week, I talked about how being made in the image of God means that we should respect that image in others. We need to be about the business of seeing others as mirrors of ourselves, with their pluses, minuses, failures, and successes reflecting back our own. God included all people in his declaration that humans made in his image are very good. No exceptions.
But what if there is at least one person I don't treat with that kind of respect? And what if that person is . . . me?
What if one of the reasons we have such a difficult time understanding and living out our true identity in God is that we do not believe we are eagles? We spend our time digging away at pointless things, crying out to God Why? Why do I feel like I can't ever get better at this? Why is this so unfulfilling? Why am I not making any headway at all?
And God looks at us and says—Because you're not a mole, you idiot. You were never meant to paw at the dirt. I made you to soar.
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2.10)
Eagles are some of God's most incredible creations. But you? You are a masterpiece. Right up there with the Mona Lisa and the Pieta. God's stunning creation. You should be hanging in a museum and having people gawk at you.
OK, maybe not. That wouldn't even be very much fun, I'm guessing.
Be An Eagle
But what if I don't feel like a masterpiece? At all? Well, the good news is it doesn't matter how we feel. God called us one. His word is the rule. If He said it, it is fact. God called human creation very good. He called people in his image three times in Genesis 1. That's significant, as we discussed in the first week of this topic. If He has declared it to be so, my feelings don't change it one way or another. That's excellent news for someone whose feelings of worth vary as much as the tide level in the Bay of Fundy.
However, it's going to be hard for me to treat others with the respect of God's image in them if I haven't practiced treating myself the same way. If I sell myself short in a hundred tiny ways every day, I'm highly likely to do the same to others.
God wants me to stop selling myself short. He wants me to be an eagle. Maybe that's going to be your hardest battle in 2015 when it comes to retaking your identity in Christ. Believe that you are an eagle. (This is starting to sound very Karate Kid. Whatever.)
We hear that we are to be God's representative on earth and we think, I can't do that. I'm not good enough. Holy enough. Smart enough. I'm not Mother Teresa or Billy Graham or that doctor in Africa on the cover of Time. I'm not even my pastor or youth pastor on a good day. They're trained/educated/just plain born good. I'm not. I'll leave that ambassador for God thing to them and go on digging around down here. It's good enough. I'm not cut out for more.
God says—stop being a mole. Stop selling yourself short. The truth is, every time we choose to be less than an eagle, we disrespect the image He gave us. We choose to be a cheap postcard reprint of a Thomas Kincaid when we could be a Monet.
No one can figure out his or her God-given identity sitting an assembly line of identical knockoffs of the real thing.
Who Does God Say We Are?
Things God says about you if you have given your life to Him:
- You're his image—with all that includes. (Genesis 1.27)
- He knew you before you were born and had a plan for you. (Jeremiah 1.5, Psalm 139)
- You are a new creation—you can start over. (2 Corinthians 5.17)
- You are chosen, and you belong to Him. (1 Peter 2.9)
- You're his child, and you will become more like him all the time. (1 John 3. 1-3)
- You are his friend--trusted. (John 15.15)
- You are wonderfully made. (Psalm 139.14)
- You are reconciled, holy, and blameless. (Colossians 1.19-23)
- You are fearless. (Romans 8.14-15)
That is just a short list.
We all have the choice to soar into those things or to ignore them and keep digging around in the ground.
--It takes stepping into that belief, knowing we might fall and get hurt but taking the chance anyway.
--It takes continuing those flying lessons, even after we tumble down because we lost sight of where we were meant to be. Like Dori said, Just keep swimming. Or flying. Same thing. Sort of.
--It takes looking at a situation and thinking about it not through lenses of fear but through a lens of “What would God's image-person do here?”
--It takes looking at the thieves who try to steal your identity in Christ and saying, “You know what? I don't think so. I've seen the list. I know who I am.”
Today, I choose to soar.